And so it begins. Last night on Corrie we had the first glimpses of what the future of the soap may be like. Every few scenes there was a reference to Rosie Webster appearing on Lorraine Kelly's TV show clumsily crow-barred into the dialogue. Many viewers will have been utterly bemused by these pointless references to the antics of an off-screen character, many more will have just been annoyed. Of course, it's all part of ITV's grand plan to begin migrating viewers onto the internet so that they can start charging them to watch net-only material.
Whether people will want to go to the internet to watch second fiddle 'webisodes' or if they will be prepared to pay for such half-hearted material as those currently available for free on the 'Just Rosie' spin-off website remains to be seen. What is more relevant is how it will affect 'normal' Corrie episodes.
If last night is anything to go by, viewers can expect disjointed, tangential conversations involving events not occurring in Weatherfield inserted into the plot and characters suddenly disappearing for months at a time while the actors that play them are off on 'B' team duties - i.e. filming poorly produced 10-minute episodes which will only ever be watched by a tiny percentage of the core Corrie audience.
Cannier media commentators are saying that ITV attempting to charge for access to programming won't turn out to be the cash cow they hope and that their current audience-shifting efforts are ultimately futile. Let's hope so, or Corrie may one day end up being little more than a series of scenes involving characters sitting in their front rooms, looking at laptops and exclaiming 'This ITV player thing is amazing, so it is.' (That was Jim McDonald saying that, if you'd not guessed).